NFDA members have asked for clarity on cases where the child of an employee attending school is asked to self-isolate as a pupil attending the same class is confirmed as having Coronavirus. Do members of the household living with the child (parent, guardian etc.) also need to self-isolate?
The government guidance does not deal with the situation where a member of the household has to self-isolate due to contact with someone with coronavirus specifically, but provides the following guidance:
You must stay at home and self-isolate if:
- you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus
- you’ve been notified by the NHS or public health authorities that you’ve been in contact with someone with coronavirus
- someone in your linked household (or your ‘extended household’ if you live in Scotland or Wales) has symptoms or has tested positive for coronavirus
- you’ve been advised by your doctor or health authority to shield because you’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus, for example as part of a local lockdown
- you’ve been advised by a doctor or clinician to self-isolate before being admitted to hospital for surgery
Tell your employer that you have to self-isolate because of coronavirus (COVID-19).
As the child (being in the linked household) does not have symptoms then under the guidance, the member of the same household living with the child does not appear to be caught by the obligation to self-isolate unless of course they have had notification from the NHS or a public health authority (not just the school) to say that they do.
If the employee is obliged to self-isolate and cannot work from home the employer is not obliged to pay them for this period. The employee could elect to take annual leave to maintain their pay if they wanted to, and has the leave to take; or alternatively can get SSP for this period. The employee is entitled to SSP if he/she is self-isolating for any reason other than returning from abroad (where SSP is not available, principally on the basis that it is voluntary).
However as the guidance does not extend to those who live with someone who has to self-isolate due to contact with someone who has coronavirus, the NHS guidance confirms that the employee can continue to attend work (assuming there is no notification from the NHS or a public health authority):
Self-isolation means staying at home and not going outside your home at any time. If you live with other people, they do not need to self-isolate, but they should avoid contact with you as far as possible and follow advice on hygiene. If you do not live with other people, you should seek help from others, or delivery services, for essential activities such as food shopping. Self-isolation can be particularly challenging if you are looking after children, or if you care for vulnerable people who cannot stay with friends or family.
If the employer does not want the employee at work due to the child’s self-isolation then this would need to be paid in full by the employer as it is their choice that the employee does not attend, rather than something compelled by the guidance.